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World economic crisis may affect Russia's export majors

January 24, 2008 | RIA Novosti

The current turmoil in the global financial markets may impair development opportunities for Russia's major exporters of raw materials, the president of the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs said on Thursday.

Alexander Shokhin said "the liquidity crisis in the U.S. economy" could affect Russian companies' ability "to finance large-scale projects requiring stable volumes of commodity exports."

He said their export revenues could decline, thus limiting their ability to modernize and forcing them to review their merging and acquisition plans.

However, he said the crisis does not threaten Russia's economy as a whole, since it has a sufficient safety margin in the form of the Stabilization Fund and foreign exchange reserves.

On Wednesday, Russian Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin called Russia a 'haven of stability', as the country's economy remained stable amid slumping global stock markets, and said that Moscow could offer financial assistance to the international community.

"As a country with substantial reserves, Russia could help soothe the global crisis," the Russian minister said.

World stock exchanges have seen heightened volatility in recent weeks following the financial difficulties provoked by the U.S. subprime mortgage crisis and fresh signs of a recession in the world's largest economy.

The largest U.S. banks earlier announced that they would seek to raise equity abroad to shore up their liquidity.

Russia's Stabilization Fund, established to take in revenues from oil and gas exports and absorb excessive liquidity, stood at 3.85 trillion rubles ($157 billion) as of January 1, 2008, compared to 2.35 trillion rubles ($89.1 billion) a year earlier.

The Russian Trading System (RTS) index gained 1.83% during Wednesday morning's trade to 2,003.65 points, regaining most of the losses sustained in the past two days when it plunged 7.38% from Friday's close to below 2,000 on Monday afternoon, and fell another 5.83% to below 1,900 points on Tuesday morning.

However, the index was given a boost by the United States Federal Reserve's decision to slash its interest rate by three quarters of a percentage point on Tuesday, in an emergency move to attempt to avoid a U.S. economic recession.

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